'If we abstain, can we complain?' say faith leaders as Brits cast vote in European elections

(Photo: Unsplash/Aron Van de Pol)

People across the UK will be going to their local polling stations on Thursday to cast their votes in the European elections. 

UK voters will elect 73 representatives in the European Parliament. Polling is taking place until 22:00 BST in nine constituencies across England and one each in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

The results will be announced after polling finishes across the whole European Union by 22:00 BST on Sunday. 

People of faith are being encouraged to get out and vote in the elections despite the imminent prospect of the UK leaving the EU. 

In a statement, Greater Manchester Faith Community Leaders urged everyone to participate. 

"We did not expect these European elections. But, no matter how briefly those elected will sit in the European Parliament, we should all take part," they said.

"Our communities' health depends upon it. Everyone has the chance to express their view. If we abstain, can we complain? If we stay at home, we may be saying 'Yes' to a political vision that will destroy our society.

"That is why we urge all people to vote – and why we ask all candidates to promote positive relationships between all of our communities."

They urged all candidates to reject and condemn racism, xenophobia, discrimination, violence and harassment.

"All of these have no place in a civilised society," they said. 

They continued: "We respect the unusual circumstances in which these elections have come about. We call on everyone to uphold the democratic values that underpin legitimate debate between people who, with sincerity and integrity, have major differences of view.

"The right to vote has been hard won. Let's cherish, protect and use it." 

Andy Flannagan, executive director of Christians in Politics, also encouraged people to cast their votes on Thursday, saying that "whichever viewpoint we are coming from, throwing our hands in the air is not an option".